Elec­tri­fy­ing Pikes Peak 2015

Two heavy cars topped the podium in U.S. hill climb to give bat­tery-power a lot of street cred

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

ONE seg­ment of the car mar­ket where 1960s Ford mus­cle car ge­nius Bob Tasca’s “win on Sun­day, sell on Mon­day” do not yet ap­ply, is elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Few bik­ers are in­ter­ested in the new record speeds of the elec­tric bikes at the re­cent Isle of Man.

Fewer peo­ple even know about the “elec­tric For­mula One”, de­spite each of the eleven races in the sea­son that ended last month be­ing nail-bit­ing af­fairs around new city tracks on which only tal­ent de­ter­mined who ended first, as all For­mula E driv­ers race in the same Spark-Re­nault car.

All this is set to change af­ter two very dif­fer­ent elec­tric cars last week placed first and sec­ond in a race which Amer­i­can petrolheads re­gard as the Mecca for real rac­ers (as op­posed to Nascar driv­ers).

This race was the 93rd run­ning of the Pikes Peak In­ter­na­tional Hill Climb, Amer­ica’s sec­on­dold­est an­nual car race af­ter the In­di­anapo­lis 500 oval races.

The fastest Pikes Peak driv­ers reach speeds of over 240 km/h to steer around 156 hair­pins along a steep 20 km course in less than 10 min­utes.

This year, be­low zero tem­per­a­tures and snow at the sum­mit of the moun­tain near Colorado Springs saw or­gan­is­ers move the fin­ish line a bit lower mid­way through the race, which means re­sults still have to be rat­i­fied.

But the weighted times will still see the Lat­vian en­gi­neer­ing firm Drive eO’s PP3 the fastest up the hill, with drift car racer and Pikes Peak vet­eran Rhys Millen clock­ing 9:07,222.

Millen’s time also sets a new record for elec­tric cars.

The sec­ond car in a time of 9:36,496 was driven by Nobuhiro “Mon­ster” Ta­jima, in his elec­tric car, the Ta­jima Ri­mac E-Run­ner Con­cept One. To be sure, the times of their bat­tery-laden cars were over a minute off the over­all record for Pikes Peak of 8:13.878 — set in 2013 by nine time World Rally Cham­pion driver Se­bas­tian Loeb in the feath­er­weight Peu­geot 208 T16 Pikes Peak racer.

But in years to come, Mr Millen and Ta­jima-san will be able to point to 2015 as the year they went up a moun­tain very, very fast to give elec­tric cars the street cred they had lacked up to that point.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Pro­fes­sional drift car racer Rhys Millen did a lot for the street cred of elec­tric cars by win­ning this year’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb in an elec­tric car, beat­ing his long time ri­val Nobuhiro Ta­jima, also in an elec­tric car.

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